|On March 25, 2015, AlertsUSA issued the following
related Flash message to subscriber mobile devices:
|What You Need To Know|
|On Wednesday of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding the start of a massive military offensive launched by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and multiple Gulf States against Iran-backed Houti rebels in Yemen. Known as Operation Decisive Storm, the stated reason for the attack is the danger posed by having an Iranian-backed government on the southern border of Saudi Arabia.
Middle Eastern news outlet Al-Arabiya is reporting Saudi Arabia alone has deployed 100 fighter jets in the attacks. An additional 70 fighter aircraft have deployed from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan and Egypt.
Next up is the ground invasion. The Saudi government has deployed 150,000soldiers near the border of Yemen. Other nations set to participate include Pakistan, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan and Egypt. The U.S. has the Iwo Jima amphibious assault group offshore with 2000 Marines and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is in the Persian Gulf (though it appears the U.S. is not playing an active role in offensive operations). At the time of this report’s preparation on Friday, the ground invasion had yet to be launched though multiple media outlets are reporting the action is imminent.
LOSS OF TRUST IN THE U.S.?
Late Wednesday the White House reported President Obama has authorized logistics and intelligence support for the Saudi campaign, a move which appears to have come after the fact. There are conflicting reports about when Washington was notified of the planned attack. While the usual lapdog media outlets report that the White House has been at the center of the planning effort, Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee offers a very different take on the matter.
In all fairness, it is important to note that while Saudi authorities may not may have proactively notified the DoD or White House of their attack plans, the U.S. most certainly knew something was in the works. It is nearly impossible to position 170 plus fighter aircraft from 10 nations, as well as deploy more than 150,000+ ground forces and all their equipment, without it being picked up by land based, airborne and space-based reconnaissance assets. Additionally, with the number of countries involved there is a high likelihood there was significant information being shared between intelligence agencies.
WHY IS ALL OF THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
INCREASED THREAT OF TERRORISM
As AlertsUSA Threat Journal has reported on multiple occasions over the past several years, Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terror organization’s most active branch. The group is responsible for multiple previous attempted attacks on commercial aircraft, including the failedChristmas 2009 attempt to bring down an airliner near Detroit and the October 2010 plot to bring down cargo aircraft using bombs built into printer toner cartridges.
According to Matt Olsen, the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center; “This group, AQAP, is absolutely determined to try and carry out an attack on a U.S.-bound airplane. The prospect of AQAP trying to get a bomb on an airplane has been, for the past several years, at the top of the list for concerns of the U.S. counterterrorism community.”
Most recently, AQAP also took responsibility for the January terror attacks in Paris which killed 12 people and intelligence services report an increasing operational collaboration between AQAP and the Islamic State in Syria.
According to Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the U.S. no longer has human intelligence [assets] in Yemen, a development intelligence sources say will dangerously limit America’s ability to track and target al Qaeda and other extremist terror movements in the region.
YEMEN DEBACLE A COUNTERTERRORISM DISASTER
When U.S. diplomatic staff and Marines made a hasty exit from the embassy in Yemen back in February, and then again this past weekend when U.S. special operations and intelligence teams were evacuated from Al Anad air base near the capital, rebel forces obtained a trove of US intelligence files which were left left behind and in turn, delivered them with a bow to Iran.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials call this development a disaster for US counterterrorism efforts. It is believed the Houti advance through Yemen has resulted in the delivery of crucial information about US intelligence operations throughout the Middle East to a US-listed state sponsor of terrorism.
POTENTIAL FOR SOARING OIL AND GAS PRICES
Considering the players involved as well as geography, there is potential for this conflict to bring about soaring oil and gas prices. In addition to the obvious vulnerability of Saudi oil facilities, another critical pressure point is the southwest corner of Yemen which forms a portion of the gateway between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Strategically and economically, Bab el-Mandeb(“The Bab” or the “Gate of Anguish”) is one of the most important waterways in the world. If Iran-backed fighters control this area of Yemen, commercial shipping and military vessels are at grave risk of attack from both sea and land.
If you think this is far fetched, keep in mind the “Tanker War” and mining of the Persian Gulf in the 1980’s. The threat is even greater now as Iran has dramatically expanded their military capabilities. More recently, in 2012 the commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, Mohammad Ali Jafari, publicly stated the following:
“This is a declared policy by Iran, that if war occurs in the region and the Islamic republic is involved, it is natural that the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the energy market, will face difficulties.”
One will also see there are only two routes between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean; via “The Bab,” the Red Sea and Suez Canal or an extremely long trip around the Southern tip of Africa. In a situation where Iran itself is under attack, hampering maritime traffic through The Bab, or sinking ship in the 102 mile long Suez Canal would be one of their highest priorities so as to hamper movement of U.S. and other Western warships.
POTENTIAL INVOLVEMENT OF RUSSIA
Russia and Iran are demanding an immediate end to the airstrikes. As a reminder, Russia and Iran signed a mutual defense agreeement in January.
POTENTIAL INVOLVEMENT OF U.S. MILITARY FORCES
As of the time of this report’s preparation, there have been no public reports of U.S. participation in offensive operations. Even if U.S. forces were involved, it is likely there would be attempts to keep it quiet due to the disjointed foreign policy pickle within which the Obama administration finds itself: How do you realistically go about negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran at the same time as you are bombing Iranian troops or their proxies in Yemen while also backing up Iranian Quds forces fighting against ISIS in Iraq?
AlertsUSA continues to monitor developments in this region, as well as its impact on the domestic terrorism threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers of changes in the overall threat picture for U.S. citizens and interests as events warrant.
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.